I Learned It From Watching You!

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David Letterman was never “my” late night guy, he belonged to my parents. Late Night with David Letterman debuted in February 1982 and my parents were married in October 1983. Unsurprisingly, TV nerdom runs in the family and many stories of the early days of their marriage involve them ordering pizza at midnight so they could properly enjoy watching Late Night. We also have boxes upon boxes of VHS tapes filled with Late Night and Late Show episodes that were recorded when my Dad missed the show because he had to work late. They even saw the show live in 1985 when Late Night did a week of shows in Los Angeles. (I guess technically I was there too because my mom was about 2 months pregnant with me. So, hey I’m cool too!)

My parents’ enjoyment of Late Night and later, the Late Show gave Letterman an air of credibility in my young eyes. The stars I grew up loving didn’t really make it until they appeared on Letterman. Even as an adult, if Dave (yep, in our household, he’s just “Dave”) liked one of my favorite celebrities, that made them even cooler. My heart was inexplicably warmed in 2012 when he straight up fangirled to Amy Poehler about how much he loved Parks and Recreation and he was so tickled by Billy Eichner’s first Late Show appearance that he asked him back a few months later and they taped a remote segment together, something he hadn’t done in ages. Jennifer Lawrence was always in rare form whenever she visited Dave and it was always a toss-up whether I was more amused by her antics or his bemused reaction to her antics. Likewise, Dave was so admiringly bewildered by Amy Sedaris she made a staggering 34 appearances on the Late Show. (And to be honest, it didn’t really “hit” me that Dave was leaving until Amy said goodbye.)
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Kind Of A Helbig Deal

Grace_Helbig_2A long, long time ago (May 2012) in a galaxy far, far away (YouTube) I made a life-long (again, it’s been 3 years) friend (we’ve never met) in Grace Helbig. Under the banner of “Daily Grace,” Grace’s daily (duh) videos ranged from the helpful to the not-so-helpful to the delightfully stupid and always maintained a healthy balance of cleverness, absurdness and just plain weirdness. Though she never truly had a viral hit, she was still considered one of YouTube’s premiere players and accumulated over 2 million subscribers. Early last year, Grace moved her operations from the corporately owned “Daily Grace” to her own channel, “It’s Grace” (it was honestly like a mini-NBC vs. Conan thing, look it up, damn the man etc.) and while starting over from scratch was a risky move, “It’s Grace” hit the one million subscriber mark within two weeks of launching. (And a year and change later, “It’s Grace” has even surpassed “Daily Grace” in total subscribers.) 2014 also saw the release of an independent film starring Grace and fellow YouTubers Mamrie Hart and Hannah Hart (Camp Takota, currently streaming on Netflix!) and Grace’s first book, “Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending To Be A Grown Up,” a New York Times Bestseller!

“Cool history lesson, Crystal, but what’s your point?” Well, impatient blog bully in my mind, Grace has gone and got herself a TV show that premieres tomorrow on E! and I’m pretty darn excited about it. Described as “a curious introvert’s nighttime talk show,” The Grace Helbig Show is taping inside a house as opposed to a studio and promises extensive collaboration with her internet audience and oddities like celebrity interviews conducted while Grace runs errands. And for those in the YouTube know, it’s especially exciting because Grace’s frequent collaborator (and overall queen) Mamrie Hart appears in (at least?) the premiere episode. So basically it sounds like “It’s Grace” with a longer runtime and bigger budget so I can’t wait.

And on the semi-serious side, for whatever reason (probably because I watch the majority of web videos in bed with my phone three inches from my face) being a fan of a YouTube star feels a lot more personal than a regular star. When you watch someone on a daily basis for years, you feel weirdly connected to them, like you know them. I’m excited for Grace as an artist and creator to have this new platform but I also feel strangely proud and excited for Grace as a person? It feels like one of my own has been called up to the big leagues and I genuinely hope this show does big things for her.
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Dear Parks and Rec, I Loved You And I Liked You

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I briefly told this story last night on Tumblr but when Parks and Recreation began its run in April 2009, I couldn’t have been less interested. I absolutely worshiped Amy Poehler from her Upright Citizen’s Brigade and Saturday Night Live days but I knew the show was specifically designed to be a companion piece for The Office, one of the few shows that I’ve ever actually just flat out given up on watching. (I loved it intensely for about three years and as the quality waned, so did my interest and eventually I just had to abandon ship. To protect my fond memories. The show produced OVER 100 MORE EPISODES after I stopped watching.) The pilot of Parks was made available on iTunes before it aired and I decided to give it a shot. It was exactly what I thought it was going to be (just like The Office but not The Office that I fell for. The current, cartoony Office). I felt like I gave it a fair chance but it wasn’t for me and I moved on.

When the show returned that fall, I was surprised to hear friends and critics say that there had been a clear uptick in quality. I saw the fourth episode of the second season, “Practice Date,” literally by accident: Community was set to record but somehow the recording ran long and also picked up Parks. As soon as Community ended, the cold open of Parks started (Councilman Dexhart’s birthday cave sex press conference) and my brother and I couldn’t help but giggle. We didn’t know the entire episode had recorded so we kept watching and giggling and before we knew it, the entire half hour had passed! I caught a few more episodes here and there that season and ended up Netflix-binging both seasons later that year.

And here we are roughly 5 years later. I would’ve loved to have had the time (not to mention emotional tenacity) to do a proper series retrospective (in the vein of my OC send-off that I bring up way too often) but perhaps someday. (I owe 30 Rock and Parenthood tribute posts as well.) For now, I’ve made a list of my 10 favorite episodes. And I’ll just say this: there were definitely peaks and valleys but from the moment I got onboard, Parks and Recreation never failed to make me smile. I’m a TV fanatic, I couldn’t begin to estimate how many shows I’ve seen through to the end, and yet Parks always felt special. For some reason, it feels rare to see a TV show where everyone gets along, everyone likes each other, everyone just wants everyone to have everything they want and that’s the driving force of the show. Parks and Rec was like a ray of sunshine in a dark TV world and that positivity is what I’m going to miss; that positivity is what made Pawnee feel like home.

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Live From My Heart, It’s My SNL Tribute!

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I felt like I should pay tribute to Saturday Night Live as the 40th anniversary was the talk of the town this weekend. But this is one of the few instances where I actually have no idea what to say. SNL has always been in my life and more importantly, been a part of my life. I’ve never known a world without SNL and frankly, I don’t care to. It feels a bit weird to make such adamantly sentimental and loving statements about a show that is so often looked down on – accused of either being past its prime or never having been funny at all – but I can’t help how I feel. “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” takes me to my happy place. I honestly don’t know who I would be if I didn’t hear those magical seven words every Saturday night growing up.

I have vividly clear memories of watching SNL for the first time. It was the spring of 1996, I was 10 years old and up with the flu and a fever. My younger brother was tucked away in bed and I was being tended to by my parents in the living room. My mom spread a sheet out on the floor for me (she would sleep on the couch in case I needed anything during the night) and I can still remember how cool and refreshing the sheet felt against my fever-warm skin. 11:30 rolled around (though it seemed much later to a delirious 10-year-old) and my father turned the muted TV to Saturday Night Live, as (I’d later find out) he often did. I was familiar with the show only by name and reputation – I was a fan of Nickelodeon’s kid-oriented sketch shows, Roundhouse and All Thatand knew that those shows were based on that model. And I knew it was something I was not allowed to watch, a fact I had learned 2 years previous when Nancy Kerrigan (I was obsessed with figure skating for a few years in my childhood) hosted and my parents tuned in and told me about it after the fact.

But for some reason, this night was different. As fate would have it, Jim Carrey was hosting and my parents were tickled by The Mask. By monologue’s end, Dad had unmuted the TV. Mom was still attending to my illness, pressing a cold washcloth to my forehead, but her attention slowly began to shift from me to the television. The first sketch was Carrey joining in on Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri’s Spartan Cheerleaders routine. It was weird, it was manic, it was… amazing? The next sketch was the soon-to-be-iconic sight of Carrey with Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan’s Roxbury Guys. Incredible. The third sketch featured Carrey as an overzealous lifeguard supervising Will Ferrell sitting in a Jacuzzi. The three of us were in hysterics.

Even in my feverish haze, I remember feeling like I was getting away with something. Did my parents forget I was in the room? Is this a treat because I’m sick? Do they figure I’m not retaining any of this because I’m fuzzy from the cold medicine? Anytime any joke or event happened that I knew (or extrapolated) was “inappropriate,” I would squint my eyes (squint, not close. I obviously wasn’t going to stop watching!) and pretend to have fallen asleep, not for fear of embarrassment but for fear that my Dad would feel pressured to change the channel. There was no way he could change the channel.

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Quips, Quibbles and Witticisms Courtesy of the 2013 Emmy Nominations

Early Thursday morning, I upheld my tradition of staying up all night (because why go to bed early? The delirium of exhaustion makes my commentary even funnier!) and overreacting to the Emmy award nominations. Apparently I haven’t given a proper analysis to the nominees for a couple years but I studied for this year’s nominations harder than I studied for most of my college exams so read on for one of my patented long-winded, overly emotional and mostly biased analyses.
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Abridged 2010 Emmy Thoughts in Pictures (and a few words)

What a show! For the first time in years, the Primetime Emmy Awards were an exciting, entertaining, interesting show to watch. Shows that deserved to win won (Modern Family, Mad Men), actors who’ve been due for a while finally got their shot (Aaron Paul, Jim Parsons) and there were actually some surprise winners (I’m still trying to figure out who or what an Archie Panjabi is). Perhaps it’s because I am still a 14-year-old fangirl at heart, but I thought Jimmy Fallon did an excellent job hosting, with the right mixture of his bizarre Late Night humor (his intro for – and subsequent hugging of – Tom Selleck) and his obvious overall enthusiasm for television (the opening, his musical farewells to 24, Law & Order and Lost). (And seriously, that opening? Kind of made my life tonight. Hurry and go YouTube it before they take it down, folks, it was ah-mazing.) The only real bummer of the night (besides COCO losing!) was the Miniseries/Movie segment which went on for about 1300 years (or like, 45 minutes).

If (for some reason) you’d like to read my real-time reactions to the Emmy events, you can see what I posted on Twitter (beware there’s probably a lot of ALL CAPS. I was excited.); otherwise, continuing the tradition of my old Xanga blog, I now present:

Crystal’s Abridged 2010 Emmy Thoughts in Pictures

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